LEBANON, Mo. — The principal of a high school in Missouri recently circumvented a ban on graduation prayer by speaking about the history of God in public life during his recent address to graduates.
Lebanon High School Principal Kevin Lowery exhorted students during the May 23rd commencement ceremony at the Cowan Civil Center to remember that “God is still important” in the face of being prohibited to pray during the event.
“In one of the most famous sentences in American History, taken from our Declaration of Independence, reads, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,'” Lowery said in opening the gathering. “This passage has come to represent a moral standard to which the United States should always strive.”
“And even though God is reflected in the very fabric of our nation, we are told that it is inappropriate and even illegal to mention God at high school graduations, let alone say a prayer,” he continued.
Lowery then decried that it “would not be politically correct” for him to lead the room in prayer as he asked those gathered for a moment of silence.
“[J]ust in case you’re interested, during my moment of silence, I gave thanks to God for these great students, their parents, their teachers, and for this community,” he said, proceeding to present the contents of his silent prayer.
The room then broke into applause and cheers from those who understood how Lowery circumvented the ban on graduation prayer.
“Oh, I’m not finished,” he declared. “I asked God to protect these students as they go their separate ways into the world. I asked God to avail Himself in every possible way.”
“I asked God to watch over them, to protect them, and to bless them with self-fulfillment, with compassion, inner peace, and personal prosperity,” Lowery continued. “Thank you for indulging the thoughts I had during my moment of silence. And yes, God is still important, and let us not ever forget it.”
The civic center was then filled with applause for the next several seconds.
While at least one prominent atheist who learned of Lowery’s speech has contacted the district to complain about his references to God, others have expressed appreciation for the principal’s boldness.
“Good for him,” one commenter named Trent stated. “Congress did not establish a national church like the Church of England in this speech, so no law was broken, despite what the … atheists foaming at the mouth have to say about it.
“I loved it. Great opening statements,” another named Brent wrote. “Showing the students to be bold and stand up for what you believe. He was right, this country was founded with God [at the] forefront. The further we distance from God, the worse this country gets. See the last 20 years.”
“Thank God for this. People are trying to take this from us,” wrote a third commenter named Cheryl. “It’s our constitutional right. The power of prayer says it all.”